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Blanck, R. Blanck, G. (1977). The Transference Object and the Real Object. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 58:33-44.

(1977). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 58:33-44

The Transference Object and the Real Object

Rubin Blanck and Gertrude Blanck


As psychoanalysis has become a normal developmental psychology, the knowledge derived from this extension of theory has created possibilities for treatment of the more seriously disturbed individual. Beginning with a study of instinct theory, moving on to the structural theory with the consequent expansion of technique derived from ego and superego psychology, it has seemed to us necessary to reconsider certain aspects of drive theory and affect theory as they apply to the treatment of borderline states.

In making the attempt to spell out more precisely the actual content of ego-building in the therapy of the less-than-neurotic structures, we were led to a compelling formulation by Freud about instinct which fits extraordinarily well with the developmental sequences of symbiosis and separation-individuation. Another attractive aspect was the elimination of value judgement, so that we are not reduced to maintaining one drive as more valuable than its counterpart. This brought into question the polarity in the dual drive theory which has dominated psychoanalytic thinking. We were pleased (and relieved) to find that others, for example Rangell and Loewald, were also moving in the direction of unitary concepts instead of polar ones. This also calls into question existing concepts of drive-taming—fusion and sublimation especially. Since fusion is also construed today as the bringing together of the opposing representations of the gratifying and frustrating object, it seems feasible to take yet another step, to view affect and drive as separate, albeit closely related. This, too, fits well with observable phenomena, that a need-gratifying object (drive) is not the same as a love object (affect).

Jacobson terms selective identification a compromise between the need to preserve the object and the need to individuate. We think that this process is the essential paradigm of development, but not really a compromise because what is given up is replaceable. In this uniquely human way, the object is internalized, making separation and individuation possible and leading to developmental opportunities open to no other species.

This concept is extraordinarily useful technically. It imposes the task of reconsideration of many technical concepts which are generally taken for granted because they are so useful in the treatment of the structured personalities—abstinence, interpretation, transference, resistance, among others. We mention them here in the hope that we shall be able to elaborate in future communications.

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